Sugar free ice cream is something that did not exist 10 years ago. Luckily, with the rise in popularity of low carb diets, companies are developing sugar free ice creams right and left.
How is Sugar Free Ice Cream Sweet?
Depending on the brand, some sugar free ice creams are just as bad as the real thing. Sweeteners like Isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO) fiber and maltitol will raise blood glucose levels and insulin more significantly than regular table sugar.
Sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, monk fruit, and allulose do not raise blood glucose levels in most people. It’s a good idea to test your blood glucose levels after consuming one of these sweeteners to see how your body responds. If you don’t have a blood glucose meter, you can also monitor how you feel. GI discomfort and cravings are two major red flags with sweeteners.
Brands that focus only on low carb ice creams, like Killer Creamery and Rebel Creamery, tend to use natural sweeteners like erythritol and stevia.
Serving Sugar Free Ice Cream
Since sugar free ice cream uses other sweeteners like erythritol and monk fruit, the ice cream will not have the same frozen texture. Most traditional ice creams can be scooped straight from the freezer. Sugar free ice cream will most likely be solid rock. The lack of sugar means that the ice cream requires more time to become creamy and scoopable.
Ideally, sugar free ice cream should sit out for 15-30 minutes before consuming. If you do not wait long enough, the ice cream will not be creamy and won’t taste as delicious. Most pints can also be microwaved for a short time if you are impatient like I always am.
Sugar Free Ice Cream Brands
Click on one of the brands below to scroll to that section in the article.
Wink Ice Cream
Wink ice cream began showing up on my Instagram, and I was curious about the claims. The company produces low-calorie, plant-based ice cream. Each pint is only 100 calories and 4g net carbs. This sounds like a miracle, but even Wink labels their product as an “ice cream alternative”.
The ingredients of the vanilla Wink Ice Cream are water, prebiotic fiber (Inulin)*, pea protein, vegetable glycerin, ground flaxseed, natural flavors, organic guar gum, organic stevia extract, baking soda, monk fruit extract, vanilla bean seeds Other flavors have similar ingredients, with some different flavorings.
Online, a pint of Wink ice cream can be purchased on their website for $8. Personally, $8 for 100 calories is ridiculous, but it is a specialty product, which typically comes at a price. They are also available in some stores, and you can use their store locator to find a location near you to give these a try.
Their flavors are:
Wink ice cream sounds too good to be true. They offer 12 flavors of sugar free ice cream that is only 25 calories per ½ cup serving. So what’s the catch? Let’s do some research.
How is it Low Calorie?
Haagen Dazs is one of my favorite non-keto ice cream brands. A ½ cup serving of their vanilla ice cream is 19g of carbs. Although the serving size is the same, the weight is significantly different. A ½ cup serving of Wink ice cream is 67 grams. On the other hand, a ½ cup of vanilla Haagen Dazs is 96 grams! The vanilla does not contain any cookie or chocolate chunks, so the weight comes purely from the ice cream.
Why is Wink ice cream so lightweight? And why is Haagen Dazs so heavy? Well, the first two ingredients in the vanilla Haagen Dazs are cream and skim milk. The first ingredient of Wink ice cream is water. Skim milk is denser than water, which contributes to the higher total weight of a serving.
Also, the process of making ice cream involves introducing air to the mixture so that it develops the proper texture and volume. The more air that is introduced, the less the resulting weight per volume is. Wink ice cream has significantly more air in their ice cream compared to Haagen Dazs. This is apparent in the texture. Wink ice cream is lighter and has an icy texture. On the other hand, Haagen Dazs is thick and creamy because it has less air overall.
Is it Worth Trying?
At the end of the day, if you’re trying to beat an ice cream craving, Wink ice cream is a decent alternative to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, but there are better options on the market. Additionally, it’s expensive, and it most likely will not live up to the expectations that you have for ice cream.
Wink also makes cookies in two varieties: cinnamon and chocolate chip. A pack of 2 cinnamon cookies is 210 calories and 3g of net carbs. The chocolate chip cookies have a higher carb count of 5g net, due to the chocolate chips. The cookies have an almond flour base and are sweetened with monk fruit.
Halo Top has blown up in the last few years, especially in the health and fitness industries. Their low-calorie pints can be found in nearly every major grocery store, and they have dozens of flavors. Halo Top has several varieties that are good for a keto diet, but several of their newer flavors are relatively high carb.
There are so many flavors of Halo Top. Each variety ranges from 280-360 calories per pint. The net carb count ranges from 16-40 grams. The dairy-free options tend to have a lower net carb count overall, with the lowest being the dairy-free chocolate at 16g net carbs.
The chocolate Halo Top with dairy has the following ingredients: skim milk, eggs, erythritol, cream, organic cane sugar, milk protein concentrate, high-fat cocoa, vegetable glycerin, prebiotic fiber, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia leaf extract.
The other flavors that contain dairy will have ingredients similar to the ingredients listed above.
The dairy-free varieties of Halo Top are made with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. The dairy-free chocolate Halo Top has the following ingredients: coconut milk, organic cane sugar, erythritol, rice protein concentrate, high-fat cocoa, prebiotic fiber, vegetable glycerin, pea protein isolate, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, sea salt, organic sunflower lecithin, organic stevia leaf extract.
Similar to the above, the other dairy-free flavors will have similar ingredients.
The sweeteners used in the Halo Top ice cream are primarily erythritol, organic cane sugar, and stevia leaf extract.
Stevia and erythritol are natural non-caloric sweeteners. They are not made in a lab like sorbitol, but they are instead found in nature. Stevia comes from the stevia leaf plant, and erythritol is made from corn. These sweeteners are generally considered safe for a keto diet.
Organic cane sugar will raise blood glucose levels the same as regular sugar, and it should be avoided on a keto diet. However, the amount in Halo Top is relatively small compared to traditional ice creams.
As an alternative to traditional ice cream, Halo Top is great, especially for a keto diet. Some of their flavors are too high in carbs if your goal is to maintain ketosis, but many are good to go. The traditional Halo Top has 11 flavors that are 24 net carbs for the entire pint. These are:
There are two dairy-free flavors with only 16g of net carbs for the pint. These are:
Watch Out For These
Be cautious when picking up a pint of Halo Top at the grocery store. Some flavors have over 30g of net carbs in the entire pint. While a single serving may fit within your personal carb goals for the day, it’s very difficult to eat a single serving of ice cream.
When reading the nutrition facts, dietary fiber and sugar alcohols can be subtracted from the total carbohydrate count to calculate net carbs. Erythritol is listed as sugar alcohol on nutrition labels, but it is non-caloric and does not raise blood glucose levels in most people.
As with any other keto treat, Halo Top should not be eaten regularly. That being said, it is an excellent alternative to regular ice cream that is filled with sugar. As a bonus, it is available in nearly every major grocery store, and online.
Is it Worth Trying?
Don’t expect Halo Top to taste like your favorite Dairy Queen Blizzard. The low fat content in the ice cream makes the texture less creamy and icier. Similar to other low-calorie ice creams, there is a lot of air added to the ice cream as it is being mixed, to make it more voluminous and less calorie-dense. However, Halo Top is still sweet and an easy way to satisfy an ice cream craving on keto.
Enlightened Ice cream is a low calorie, low-fat, low-sugar ice cream. They sell bars and pints of ice cream, with some specifically marked as keto-friendly. These products are lower in net carbs and higher in fat.
Enlightened Ice cream is available in stores and online. They have a store locator on their site and you can filter to search for the stores that sell the keto ice cream specifically.
Each serving of keto ice cream from Enlightened has 11g of total carbs. There are 2g of fiber and 8g of sugar alcohol, so the net carb count is 1. A serving is ¼ of a pint, so an entire pint is 44g of total carbs and 4g net. A serving also has 15 of fat, which is higher than most low carb ice creams on the market.
The ingredients of the Coffe & Cream Enlightened keto ice cream are cream, water, erythritol, egg yolks, non-GMO soluble corn fiber, coffee, vegetable glycerin, milk protein concentrate, skim milk, tara gum, guar gum, carob gum, monk fruit extract, and salt.
The Enlightened keto ice cream uses erythritol and monk fruit as a sweetener. These are both natural sweeteners that do not impact blood glucose in most people. Erythritol can cause GI distress in large amounts but is fine in moderation. The sugar alcohol on the label comes from erythritol and can be subtracted from the total carb count.
Soluble corn fiber is another ingredient that can cause GI issues in some people, especially in large amounts. Bottom line: don’t eat 3 pints of Enlightened keto ice cream in one sitting.
The bars have a similar nutrition profile to the ice cream, with 1g of net carbs per bar. If you have difficulty with portion control, the bars are a better option because they are sized into single portions. Each bar is the same as a single serving of ice cream from the pint. Sure, you could eat 4 bars, but that’s a lot more work than grabbing an entire pint and a spoon.
There are 7 varieties of the enlightened ice cream that are part of their keto collection. Each pint is only 4g of net carbs and all excluding the chocolate peanut butter contain no added sugar.
The keto flavors of Enlightened Ice Cream pints are:
Enlightened also has 4 flavors of keto ice cream bars. Each bar has 1g of net carbs and the flavors are:
While this keto-friendly ice cream isn’t low calorie, it is rich in flavor and texture and sweetness. Ultimately, Enlightened ice cream is one of the best options for low carb ice cream.
The non-keto versions of Enlightened Ice cream are still relatively low carb, but much lower in fat. For example, the Cold Brew Coffee that is not part of their keto line has 5g of net carbs per serving, and only 1.5g of fat.
The main difference in the ice creams is that cream and skim milk are switched on the ingredient list. Ingredients used in the greatest amount appear first on the label, and they are followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts. Cream has a higher fat content, and it comes first on the keto ice cream label, and skim milk is low fat and is first on the regular ice cream label.
Both the keto and non-keto ice creams are sweetened with erythritol, but the non-keto ice creams also use tapioca syrup, which increases the carb content.
The non-keto Enlightened Ice creams may not be as tasty as the keto versions because of the low-fat content. But there are more flavors to choose from, and they are still much better than a traditional pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
Bonus Tip: If you sign up for their email list, you can get a coupon for $1 off any 2 ice creams!
Rebel Creamery is one of the first ice cream brands made specifically with the keto diet in mind. Their ice creams are low in net carbs, and high in fat. Compared to Halo Top, they are much higher in calories, but they taste more like traditional ice cream because of the higher fat content.
The net carbs for the entire pint are listed on the front of the pint. I appreciate this because personally, it is more realistic that I will eat the entire pint in one sitting, rather than just a single serving. Each pint ranges from 4-8g of net carbs, which is only 1-2g per serving.
Each ice cream has similar ingredients, with a few modifications or add-ins to get the right flavor. In general, the ingredients are cream, water, erythritol, chicory root fiber, egg yolks, vegetable glycerin, milk protein isolate, salt, Peruvian carob gum, guar gum, monk fruit, cocoa, sunflower lecithin.
Similar to Enlightened, Rebel Creamery uses erythritol and monk fruit to sweeten their ice cream. Both of these have minimal impact on blood glucose and do not count towards the net carb count of the ice cream.
The fiber is chicory root fiber, which is different than the soluble corn fiber that Enlightened uses. If you have trouble digesting one of the two fibers, I would recommend trying the other fiber to see how your body responds and pick your ice cream based on that, since the ingredients are mostly the same apart from the fiber.
There are currently 14 varieties of Rebel Creamery ice cream. You can buy them all online, and many are available in stores. They have a store locator on their site to help you find locations near you.
Per serving, the No Judge Mint ice cream has 140 calories, 13g of fat, 9g of total carbs, 2g net carbs, and 3g of protein. Each pint has a similar nutrition profile and will contain more or fewer carbs depending on added ingredients like caramel or brownie chunks.
The ingredients of most of their pints are similar, with some adjustments to get the correct flavor profile. In general, the ingredients are cream, water, egg yolks, erythritol, chicory root fiber, milk protein concentrate, MCT oil, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, and stevia.
The ingredient list of Killer Creamery and Rebel Creamery are almost identical. However, Killer Creamery uses stevia and Rebel Creamery uses monk fruit. Many people notice a metallic aftertaste with stevia, so Rebel Creamery might be a better option since monk fruit does not have an aftertaste. However, since the rest of the ingredients are nearly identical, choosing between Rebel Creamery and Killer Creamery comes down to flavor preference and store availability.
In addition to their regular lineup, Killer Creamery has several limited-edition flavors that are collaborations with other brands and influencers. Their list of flavors changes regularly, but they currently have:
Breyers Carb Smart
Breyers brand of ice cream is not low carb. However, they have recently launched their Carb Smart line, which includes several ice creams and bars that are low in net carbs. Are they a good option for keto? Probably not.
The ingredients of the Breyers Carb Smart vanilla ice cream are skim milk, water, cream, sorbitol, polydextrose, whey, glycerin, natural flavor, propylene glycol monoesters, cellulose gel, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, guar gum, carob bean gum, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, carrageenan, and sugar. That’s a long list.
To sweeten the ice cream, Breyers uses sorbitol, polydextrose, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and sugar.
The ingredients are listed in the order of the amount used in the product, so sugar is not a prominent ingredient. However, although these other sweeteners are non-caloric, some have been shown to raise blood glucose. What’s worse is that some will not impact blood glucose, but will still cause an insulin response. This is bad if you are monitoring blood glucose levels. It would be easy to make the incorrect assumption that the sweetener is not having a negative impact on your health. On top of that, several of these artificial sweeteners can disrupt the gut microbiome, causing bloating and GI distress.
Overall, I would avoid all of the sweeteners on this list and this product in general.
Is it Better than the Real Thing?
No. I would rather have a bowl of ice cream that uses real sugar because I know the impact it will have on my body. Many of these artificial sweeteners are not thoroughly researched and the impacts are mostly unknown. Skip Breyers Carb Smart, and instead opt for a different sugar free ice cream brand.
There are a handful of brands of sugar free ice cream that are available in stores and online. Each one has pros and cons that are subjective to your goals. Some should be avoided altogether, like Breyers Carb Smart and Wink.
If you are looking for low-calorie ice cream, Halo Top will be the best option.
For a high-fat keto-friendly ice cream, Enlightened, Rebel Creamery or Killer Creamery are the best options. Between the 3, it depends on the sweeteners and flavors you prefer. Rebel Creamery and Enlightened use monk fruit and erythritol and Killer Creamery uses stevia and erythritol.
If you prefer monk fruit over stevia, either Rebel Creamery or Enlightened keto ice cream will be the top two contenders. From there, is it between flavor preference and fiber source. Enlightened uses soluble corn fiber and Rebel Creamery uses chicory root fiber. If you notice a difference between the two, pick the one that you prefer. Otherwise, find your favorite flavor and dig in!
All of the brands in this article are available in select stores. Deciding on a brand to try might be as simple as figuring out which ones are sold at your local grocery store. They’re all relatively expensive but as an occasional treat, it is worth the extra cost for something that will not harm your health in the long term.
The other option is to make your own ice cream! My favorite dessert is protein ice cream made with Quest protein powder, especially the cinnamon crunch. Check out this article for the best desserts using protein powder as an alternative to store-bought sugar free ice cream.